Continued from Part 1 here
on DW and here
on LJ.( SPOILERS and SPECULATIONS Go Ever On and On . . . )
WHO AM I? 24601 . . .
To sum up about movie Bilbo, I have to say this Bilbo is quite different from Tolkien's Bilbo. He's not just more competent, but much more self-possessed from the beginning. Tolkien's Bilbo fumes inwardly, but is polite to a fault when the dwarves take over his house, and he shrieks like a tea kettle and squeaks a lot. Movie Bilbo doesn't hide how cranky he feels and has no problem saying no, even if his objections are as ignored as book Bilbo's inner fuming. He is sardonic with Gandalf ("Is he a great wizard, or more like you?") and knows how to speak with strangers, as he plays for time with the trolls.
In fact, he's not book Bilbo at all. He's book Frodo!
It's Frodo who starts out with this level of competency, aaaaand crankiness. Tolkien's Frodo would not drop his sword and fall on his bum when beset by ringwraiths, but Tolkien's Bilbo, before he reached the middle of Mirkwood, might have. And don't tell me it's because Elijah Wood couldn't project this level of competence and sardonic quippiness, because he can, and does so in his initial talk with Gandalf and in the extended Green Dragon scene with the Gaffer.
Movie Frodo never does get to display the level of competence and wisdom that book Frodo shows, and that book Bilbo develops in the latter part of his arc, and I'm not just talking about Frodo's inner struggle, which film does have some unique ways to portray that PJ did not take advantage of. So Boyens, Walsh, and PJ seem to have reversed these two characters and plopped them in each other's stories. Crackfic central! It makes me wonder if they're just bigger Bilbo fans than Frodo fans, since they took away much of Frodo's strength of character and gave it to Bilbo. Or if they loved beginning Bilbo's fish-out-of water-ness so much they wanted Frodo to have it when he went on the road. And with this new trilogy, they don't want Bilbo to seem too much like their Frodo, so they are dispensing with his fear, vulnerability, and difficulty with the road.
Since they're making Bilbo competent from the outset, maybe they feel that must naturally culminate in battle prowess, because they equate being competent with being a macho warrior--FAIL. I do not want Bilbo to fight in the Battle of Five Armies, but I'm suspecting he will. He will probably have to fight spiders that are bigger and scarier than Shelob by the Law of The Audience Expects More and We Must Deliver, the poor fellow, but we'll see how that goes. Whether he is really book Bilbo or Frodo, I do love Martin Freeman's Bilbo thus far.
LEGENDARIUM AND SCOPE
I will continue to ponder all these issues into the next movie as I watch where they take this hobbit, whoever he is, and his companions. I do love the bigger scope of this story made by the incorporation of the LotR Appendices. I am eager to see what changes they make for the internal logic of their adaptation and how big and operatic it makes it, along with what they try to preserve of Tolkien's textual work and what parts of the Legendarium they can bring in without copyright infringement and Tolkien Estate battles.
Speaking of the Tolkien Estate, I love how Boyen's, Walsh's, and PJ's larger scope gives greater sympathy to the "jealous love" of the creator, that is a major theme in The Silmarillion
in a predominantly cautionary vein. In this movie, that jealous love of creation among the Dwarves is also about communal production and cultural identity formation, what makes a people with family and cultural traditions, not just a clinging to objects for greed's sake. Tolkien's The Hobbit
brings to this issues of rightfully contested cultural ownership and shared territory that the last movie installment should explore. PJ's team have the potential here for revealing a greater emotional and ethical complexity than Tolkien elaborated in his Legendarium, in what is, in essence, Feanor's quest in the Dwarves quest for Erebor. I hope they do more with this.
What do you think?